from the Indianapolis Star
This was Tom Crean like you’ve never seen him. Unplugged, you could call Crean after Indiana’s 75-63 loss to Michigan on Sunday. Almost no energy at all. Exhausted. Drained. Tired – and not just tired after his team’s fifth loss in six games. (5-8 in the Big Ten and 15-11 overall)
Tired of his team.
This was Tom Crean trying his best not to shred several of his players by name, though he did single out the largest contingent of his underachieving starting five.
“Immaturity in the backcourt,” Crean said when asked why the Hoosiers (15-11) have fallen off a cliff – they’ve lost five of seven since OG Anunoby’s season-ending knee injury Jan. 18. “We don’t play both ends of the floor with the same purpose that we have to play when our shots aren’t going. … That’s got to change.”
Immaturity was one theme of Crean’s postgame commentary. Another was dismay, almost disbelief that his team – his veteran backcourt – is repeating its mistakes even now, 26 games into the season.
The season’s over, by the way. Barring the clichéd “unlikely run in the Big Ten tournament,” the Hoosiers are going to miss the NCAA tournament in a season that began with wins over then-No. 3 Kansas and then-No. 3 North Carolina.
“I’m not sure it was the Michigan defense,” Crean said. “Maybe it was. I’m sure they’ll credit themselves for it.”
And he was off. Before Crean was finished, he was lobbing even more pointed barbs at his guards, making it crystal clear that they aren’t playing smart enough or providing any leadership. He named no names, not even uttering the words “James” or “Blackmon” when asked a specific question about the junior guard, but offered the following nuggets about guard play on a team starting three juniors there: James Blackmon Jr. (six points Sunday), Robert Johnson (five points) and Josh Newkirk (11).
“We get it (inside),” he said, “and we stand like we’ve never played basketball before rather than cut.”
“It’s just remedial nonsense,” he was saying another time, again referring to his backcourt’s refusal to make a cut after passing the ball.
“… and some of that doesn’t make a bit of sense,” Crean said another time, perhaps about the same topic, perhaps about his backcourt’s insistence on leaving good shooters open to rotate to another UM player.
“At some point in time the window’s got to crack and we’re going to have a little bit real leadership during the game,” Crean said. “And at some point in time we’re going to communicate.”
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